Why do I love reusable holiday gift bags? Let me count the ways:
One, they save me a lot of time. It could take five minutes to wrap a gift the "normal" way: cutting paper to fit, folding and taping it, then swirling some ribbon around it to make it look extra pretty. With a gift bag, I just open the bag, put a little tisue paper in, plop in the present, and put a little more tissue paper on top. Ta-da!! It's wrapped.
Two, they save me money. How? Because I re-use bags I've gotten in the past. I have always been one of those annoying people who tries to save and re-use wrapping paper. But let's be honest – reused wrapping paper tends to be wrinkled and a bit torn. While it CAN be re-used, it's not the prettiest way to wrap. On the other hand, most gift bags are pretty durable, whether they're made of cloth, thicker paper or cardboard, or recycled plastic. I never throw away a good bag. Plus, most places where I shop credit me a nickel for every reusable bag I use in place of one of the store's plastic bags. It's not a lot of money, but still, it makes me feel good!
Three, reusable bags save trees, in the form of paper. Sandra Ann Harris of EcoLunchBox reports that, "When it comes to paper waste over the holidays, keep in mind that a whopping half of the paper consumed in the U.S. annually is used to wrap and decorate consumer products." Whew! When you think of all the natural resources that went in to growing the trees, turning them into pulp, printing the paper, and shipping it all over the country, doesn't it seem a little ridiculous to waste all that on wrapping that will be ripped up and thrown away?
Fourth, because they can be used over and over again, reusable bags can take the place of lots of plastic bags. I have a tendency to wrap gifts in bags that can actually be used for shopping regardless of the season. And that's a great gift in and of itself. Take a look at this graphic, produced by reusable bag manufacturer Factory Direct. It shows just how many states have banned plastic bags. Even if you live in a community that hasn't yet banned plastic bags, it's probably only a matter of time before they do. Here's more info on why plastic bags are a big environmental non-no.
HOLIDAY GIFT BAG OPTIONS
As for the bags themselves, yes, you can buy sturdy paper bags printed with colorful holiday designs. The downside is that then the bags can only be used during December!
I prefer to buy reusable cloth bags people can use any time of the year. Here are some of my favorites:
Chico Bags – These bags (sample pictured right), made from recycled soda bottles and other plastics, come in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs. They're particularly popular because they fold up into a small pouch that's easy to throw in your purse or clip on a backpack. You never need to be without a reusable bag again.
EnviroSax – These colorful and stylish bags (seen above left) can be chosen to match the present you're giving. Afterwards, they make a great bag to take clothes or shoe shopping, as well as to the grocery store.
BlueQ Recycled Shoppers-These whimsical, colorful bags (pictured left) can hold large, somewhat heavy gifts as well as lighter, smaller ones.
Want more ideas? We're selling lots of options in our own Amazon store right here.
What other ideas do you have for wrapping without paper? Let us know.